“Many of you still have this childlike notion that you don’t have to take too much responsibility for finding your own happiness. You still believe in the fairy tale that it is someone else’s fault that you are not happy or successful.”

Dr. Phil McGraw
Author: Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out

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This Week´s Inspiration

Who’s Taking Responsibility for Your Life?

Webster’s Definition of Responsible: “To be liable and accountable for one’s acts or decisions; answerable.”

Today’s society would like us to believe that our situation, or anything else that keeps us from achieving our wants or desires, is someone else’s fault. Of course, deep down we know this is utterly false. Responsibility is the high road; to not take responsibility means we can blame everyone but ourselves for our current circumstances.

Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled, stated that one of the most difficult psychological conditions to treat is character disorder — where a person truly believes other people are to blame for all his or her unfortunate situations. How do you treat people who blame everyone and everything and take no personal responsibility? Character disorder is a sad and pathetic condition.

Just look at the law suits caused by adults who are assuming no responsibility for their choices. One example, is individuals who are taking fast food businesses to court because they claim they got fat from the food the business served. Hey — these people drove themselves to the location, ordered, paid, and ate the stuff; where does their responsibility come into play? Individuals who blame others have not only relinquished responsibility, they have transferred power, control, and influence over their lives to someone or something else.

I want you to think about individuals you know whom you respect, and in your opinion, are very successful and happy in their lives. Of these individuals, how many constantly blame others for their situation? How many play the victim card or make excuses for their situation? If your experience is similar to mine, almost nobody with those characteristics would have your respect, nor would he or she be successful. Acting like/being a victim and being successful and happy rarely coexist.

I’ll share a personal example. A few years ago a friend became involved in an investment opportunity. After several months of checking out the venture, I invested thousands of dollars into the project. Several months later — ironically, on 9/11 — it was discovered that the entire investment scheme was a con. Over $1 million from several investors was lost. I was a victim of a crime, yet I take responsibility for my choices. Nobody made me invest; I made that choice. If I did not take responsibility for my choices, it would be like giving my power and control over to the criminals — which would be worse than giving them my money. 

Where in your life are you not taking responsibility for your situation or condition . . . in your health, relationships, business success, personal success, financial condition, anything else? Groups in society can take this position, too. I’m not saying we shouldn’t grant compassion or support but former Minnesota Governor, Jesse Ventura said it best when he spoke to a single mom demonstrating for financial support on the steps of the Legislature: “You made the choice to sleep with a stranger, which resulted in your child. Why should society and taxpayers pay for your choice? It’s time you took responsibility for your actions.”

Many of us have something for which we have not taken responsibility, myself included; the key is to be aware of the cost we are each paying by playing the blame game.

Taking responsibility helps you access confidence and feelings of fulfillment. This approach causes you to seek solutions and action steps. Playing the victim game dis-empowers you, leaving you with emotions of hopelessness, helplessness and even bitterness.

Which person would your friends call you: the powerful and responsible individual or the pathetic and weak victim?

This Week´s Action Steps

You and only you are responsible for your life. Take a few moments to read the action list. If you don’t get around to reviewing the list, don’t blame anything or anybody but yourself.

  1. Choose to take full responsibility for your life and everything in it.

  2. If you always want to be right, you are not taking full responsibility for your situation. Stop this behavior immediately — but only if you want to be happy.

  3. Identify all the areas in your life where you are blaming others. List them on a sheet of paper.

  4. Once you have completed your blame list, reverse each item; outline how you are going to take responsibility.

  5. Now that you have taken responsibility for your circumstances, whatever they are, list the action steps you can take or note the new attitude you can assume to improve your condition.

  6. When you are clear about your responsibility action steps, observe the personal energy and power that you feel from taking ownership and being solution-focused vs. being the victim.

  7. Implement this process continuously . . . for the rest of your life.

  8. Remember that taking responsibility is not a sign of weakness; it empowers and equips you for success. 

  9. Pay attention to the difference it makes in your success and happiness levels when you take responsibility. Use this evidence as a personal emotional anchor for whenever you fall into the blame game.

  10. Look at the attitude of your close friends and colleagues on the topic of responsibility. If you are hanging out with individuals who do not take responsibility (read: character disorder), either refuse to play their game or make new friends. Avoid being sucked into anyone’s habitual misery. Run away. And run fast.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!

Ken Keis

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